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Mann Ramblings

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Mann Ramblings last won the day on August 9 2016

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About Mann Ramblings

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    A Real Mann has Tattoos

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    Ann Arbor, Michigan
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    Writing, Drawing, Painting, Making Pottery and designing more tattoos for myself. (It's very addicting.)

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  1. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 52

    The cargo door slammed shut with Arad’s hand on the access pad. Green text switched to red. ***LOCKED — Rank Access Enabled*** The Ansariland would only allow a captain or above to open the door and grant access to supplies and the sleeping DemiShou inside. When it was still the Midas Ascending, Arad remembered Serene’s attitude and all the restrictions based on his status. Repeating the process made him feel a bit hypocritical, but he promised to protect Shichi and Hachi, and he refused to break his word. The Nightingale’s crew didn’t need to know about them to repair the ship. “You remembered to close out the history and sensor logs?” Roku asked. With a finger swipe, Arad blanked the screen. “Yep. With a little luck, it’ll keep our cover story. Let’s get going. They’re waiting.” Arad turned and headed for the airlock with Roku in tow. The argument over leaving Roku behind to prevent any problems with the new crew was quashed as fast as it appears. Roku would not be Arad’s dirty secret. Outer space didn’t greet them when they opened the airlock. A claustrophobic tunnel docked the two ships together, allowing access between them. Arad touched the control on Nightingale’s side to signal their arrival. He hoped they wouldn’t have to wait long. Arad wasn’t fond of the airlock these days. Air blew through the tunnel as the outer hull hatch motored into the wall. The interior door sat wide open with a full view of the Nightingale’s cargo hold and their crew. The space was larger yet less open than the Ansariland’s, with rows of shelves and metal boxes eating up the available real estate. Strangely, Arad found himself thankful not to see a series of containers filled with sleeping DemiShou. Leaning against a stack of crates, Hodge sipped from a steaming metal cup, hands safe from the heat by a pair of thin insulated gloves. Everything about the man screamed sensible relaxation. Standing by his side, Yosei would likely challenge that in her, pink hair, jumpsuit, and clunky boots. Her spiky hair barely the height of Hodge’s shoulder, the pixie-sized tech’s eyes and smile practically filled her face as Roku stepped through the doorway. Hodge placed a hand on her shoulder before she launched herself at them. Vibrating with excitement, the impending question avalanche stayed barely restrained. When she settled, he placed his cup on the crate, and walked over to shake Arad’s hand. “Welcome aboard, Arad.” “Thanks. This is Roku, my first mate.” Without the slightest hesitation, Hodge reached around Arad and gave Roku a hearty handshake. “Good to meet you. Sorry it couldn’t be under better circumstances, but I’m glad we can show you a little hospitality.” Hodge’s lack of shock or surprise at Roku caught Arad off guard. It shouldn’t have, but he knew the unfair hostility sometimes directed at the DemiShou. One look at the remaining crew answered where Hodge’s comfort came from as he led them to the others present. “This is Vosh. He handles security on the Nightingale.” Bigger than Roku, the brown bear DemiShou filled his snug overalls. Big feet solidly planted, he stood with his burly, bare arms crossed over his swollen, furry chest. If his size wasn’t domineering enough, his tone as he narrowed his eyes at them amplified the effect. “You’re really the only two on board a ship that size?” Vosh’s sudden scrutiny unnerved Arad, but he refused to let it show. “Um, yes. It’s a long story.” Head shaven with full, dark brows, the bearded man standing next to Vosh came forward, clasping Arad’s hand with a hearty pump. His eager smile was dazzling against his dusky skin. “Ignore him. Vosh’s suspicious of everyone. It’s part of his job. I’m Pakko, the mechanical engineer. I’m really glad to meet you. I do everything Yosei can’t ‘cause she’s tiny.” “Hey!” Yosei whined. Pakko’s overly friendly greeting must have concerned Roku, because he stepped up close to Arad’s back and placed a hand on his shoulder. Marking his territory? Vosh watched the display and leaned forward, giving a few indelicate sniffs in their direction. Bending over to speak in Pakko’s ear nearly folded the bear in half. “They’re mated. No baby bear for you on this trip.” Pakko’s smile curled into a frown. “Dammit!” The engineer stomped off in a childish pout over into the corner. Sighing, Vosh sighed and followed him, rubbing his shoulders in sympathy. “Sorry, babe.” “I really wanted a cub.” Vosh slid his hands over Pakko’s chest, enveloping him in a smothering hug. “Maybe we can do a group thing next time.” Yosei’s face twisted into a comical of disgust. “You guys are so gross.” Rolling his eyes, Hodge nudged them all away from the bear and his boy. “Sorry about that. Pakko grew up on a small colony where polyamory was standard. He doesn’t take monogamy well.” “We don’t share.” Roku had yet to let go of Arad’s shoulder. Hodge chuckled. “That’s obvious.” Arad looked around the carbo bay. “Is this everyone?” “Just one more. Bryce, our doctor. She’s working in the infirmary right now.” A woman’s voice drifted down from the ceiling, echoing between the crate stacks. “I may not be in the room, but the channel is open, gentlemen. I can hear ever word you say, so don’t start talking about me. Welcome, Captain Ansari. Welcome, Roku. If you’re planning on spending any amount of time on the Nightingale, I expect both of you to stop by my office for a quick medical scan. I don’t like sick people on my ship.” Arad couldn’t remember the last time he’d been seen by a live doctor rather than the medical kiosks littering the streets of Grey District. “I’m not sure how long repairs will take. Any idea?” Hodge gave a minimal shrug. “We’ll have to figure that out. It might help if we knew what happened. How’d you guys get stranded in the first place?”
  2. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 51

    I'm looking forward to introducing them all. Looks like I need to sort the plot line in greater detail so I'm ready.
  3. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 51

    I'm looking forward to introducing the rest. Coming soon.
  4. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 51

    It's a distinct possibility. She seems to be a curious sort.
  5. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 51

    Getting the Ansariland patched up is the first order of business, but I'm not sure the Nightingale's crew they've seen so far is what they expected. More to come!
  6. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 51

    "Yosei" in Japanese can mean fairy or sprite, which were often mischievous. So far she's living up to the name. I wonder what the rest of the crew will be like?
  7. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 51

    I just wrote it the way I'd like to think I'd handle the situation. Finish what you start and move on to the next project...
  8. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 51

    “I wasn’t sure anyone would get the message this far out. The ship had a bad fold jump and the main engine’s dead. I don’t suppose you have a mechanic on board?” Never show how truly desperate you are unless it gets you somewhere. A rule born on the streets of Grey District. The Ansariland needed aid, but Arad didn’t know Captain Hodge and couldn’t be sure the man wouldn’t exploit the situation. “Sure do. The Nightingale’s a cargo vessel specializing in medical tech transport. We wear a fair number of hats on this crew to keep up. How long you been out here?” “A number of weeks now. I only got the sensors and communications back online this week.” Hodge grimaced. “Ouch.” “It made for a nice vacation, but it’s time we got moving along.” “Fair enough. I bet we can probably spare some supplies to get you on your way again. Where are you headed?” Arad shrugged with a grin, not wanting to give anything away. “Nowhere in particular. Once I can read the navigation again, I’ll plot a course somewhere sunny.” Hodge’s easy chuckle soothed some of Arad’s rough edges. It wasn’t forced with a readable agenda under the surface. Just polite and personable. A rare quality of men in Arad’s orbit, save Roku. Hodge sat close to the screen, only head and chest visible, like in a private chat, defusing what might otherwise be read as a captain’s pompous authority. First Commander Bard could have taken a few lessons from him. There wasn’t much to see behind Hodge. Low lights with enough monitor glow reminded Arad of the bridge. A young woman’s impatient voice could be heard offscreen. Apparently he wasn’t alone. “How soon is he coming?” Brow cocked in disbelief, Hodge slowly turned his head. “I don’t know that he is. We’ve barely started talking.” She huffed as her voice pitched into a whine. “Hurry up.” “Do you mind?” Without warning, a ginormous head with shocking pink hair shoved between Hodge and the screen. “Are you coming over?” “Yosei! What the hell?” She narrowed her eyes through her tech goggles as the lenses spun and focused on an unknown number of details. That kind of eyewear had any number of scanning capabilities. Her face filled the screen so closely Arad was looking up her nose. “The screen’s all crappy. Don’t you know how to tune your own com?” Leaning back in his chair to create some distance, Arad barely remembered he wasn’t wearing pants and stayed seated. Even so, he muttered a response. “Um… the sensor array is kinda busted.” Hodge attempted to corral her out of the way, but she squirmed out of his hold and shoved him back with a hand in his face. Clearly, he held back, trying not to hurt the smaller woman, but she was relentless to hold court with the screen. Slapping his hands away, she nearly pushed him out of his chair. “Agh! Would you sit down so I can talk to the man?” While they wrestled, Yosei continued her barrage of questions as if she wasn’t vying for dominance with her captain in front of a total stranger. “Why is there carbon scoring on your hull? Were you in a fight? There’s a rupture near the main engine. Was it pirates? Why did they leave you alive?” Horrified by the spectacle, Arad stayed quiet. Slugs wrestling for a blanket in winter were less ruthless. “I’m in the middle of a conversation here…” Speaking through gritted teeth, Hodge struggled to keep his seat from being hijacked by the hyperactive woman. Yosei may have been petite in comparison to the captain, but thrashed like a stray cat over a puddle. Hodge had his hands full. “How many crew do you have? Your ship’s shielded. That’s not normal. Are you guys crooks?” “Yosei, get off!” Yosei crammed both her hands into Hodge’s face, trying to stay in possession of the screen. “Why are you stranded? Are you on quarantine? Do we need to sterilize the ship?” With a frustrated yell, Hodge stood. They spun in the monitor as he wrapped his arms around the flailing crew person and manhandling her out of view. “Sit down and let me bloody well finish!” Hair askew and wide eyed, Hodge returned to his seat, appearing positively frazzled. He spun in his seat, and pointed—obviously at her—silently promising retribution. “Don’t look at me like that,” Yosei said, the pout audible, if not visible through the com. Skin flushed a dusky scarlet, a touch of mania thrummed through Hodge as he faced Arad once again. The effort to regain his composure—and a certain amount of his dignity—was almost comical. Almost. Arad decided laughing might not be in his best interest. “Sorry about that. Yosei is my resident tech genius and she means well”—titling his head, he shouted over his shoulder—“but she lacks boundaries.” Hodge paused, glancing her way, body tensed, preparing for a fresh interruption. When it didn’t happen, he relaxed and continued. “Back to where we left off, if you’d like, I’d be willing to give you a hand.” Arad nodded. “I think that’d be a good idea. Let me chat with my crew and I’ll get back with you over the details.” “Sounds good. Nightingale out.” The monitor winked out and Roku emerged from the shadows. Arad’s shoulders deflated as he blew out the awkward frisson from the conversation. He smothered a peal of uncomfortable laughter with a hand over his mouth. “That was unexpected. Oh man, what have we gotten ourselves into?” “We can’t send them away, but for now, I think it’s safe.” “I think you’re right, although it’s not as if we have much of a choice.” Standing, Arad collected the handcuffs and lube from the captain’s station, then cupped Roku’s ample manhood as he walked past. “Let’s finish what we started, and then we can get ready to meet the crazy neighbors.”
  9. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 50

    that would be a twist no one saw coming...
  10. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 50

    Thanks! The Nightingale is aptly named as you'll find out. We'll learn more about the crew next week.
  11. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 50

    Given what we've seen, it's clear that Roku's had some kind of training and tactical experience, even if he doesn't remember his past. No promises on blood and gore. (Unless you want me to have Roku go on a murderous rampage and have to be put down... hmmm...) I still have to plot out this next arc! Eek!!
  12. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 50

    Roku tensed under Arad, and not in a carnal way. His eager erection flagged, and slid from its welcome home to slump between his thighs, the moment lost. The interruption gnawed at Arad. In full force, the craving stupidly urged him to finish what he’d started and answer the com afterwards. Thankfully he had enough sense not to listen to the newfound demands of his sex drive. Before he tried to continue, he climbed from Roku’s lap and unlocked the cuffs using the key on the console. Fun time was over. Roku strode to Franc’s old station with a determined step, where sensors struggled to pull basic information from the incoming call. He tapped the screen trying to clean up the scrambled transponder data. “It’s too small for a cruiser and too large for a warship. Possibly freighter class. How’d they find us?” Arad shouldered himself between Roku and the console, forcing the tiger back and brushing his big hand aside to make his own adjustments. “I put out an automated distress beacon days ago when we knew the array was fixed. Communications are still a little spotty, and I wasn’t sure how far it was transmitting.” “Better than you realized.” “Or we’re more remote than we thought.” A series of numbers settled long enough to read. “They’re within 10,000 kilometers.” “How many are on board? Do they have weapons?” The tactical question unnerved Arad. No matter how appropriate, Roku’s shift into authoritative, military-esque point of view brought a perspective Arad hadn’t considered. The new arrivals could just as easily be dangerous as well as beneficial. “No way to tell. The sensors aren’t working that well.” Torrins had always bragged about how the Ansariland’s shielding could keep out corporate level scanners. In its current condition, hopefully no one could see the DemiShou hidden in the cargo bay. “We need to get dressed,” Roku said. Frowning, Arad passed his gaze between Roku’s fabulous nudity and the monitor’s signal, being briefly reminded of what they were up to only a minute ago. How long would the hail last? “I don’t want to waste time hunting for our clothes. Wherever they are.” “Then sit in the chair and keep your bottom hidden.” “Yeah, yeah, like I’m gonna flash our potential savior unless absolutely necessary.” Roku gave a soft growl. “I’m kidding. Seriously, calm down. That’s not happening.” A sobering yet obvious thought came to Arad. “You realize this might mean we’re not stranded anymore. What happens next?” Endless possible scenarios skittered through Arad’s imagination, sharpening his anxiety. He’d only just found Roku and didn’t want to give him up, but there were dangers lying in wait. Some corporate stooge was still out there trying to collect him, and business men rarely gave up when large sums of money were involved. Making Roku and the rest of the DemiShou must have cost a fortune. “I’m not going anywhere without you.” Roku hugged him tightly, as if afraid he’d vanish if he let go. Arad hugged him back just as fiercely because he understood. As unconventional as their lives may have been—adrift and at risk of starvation after enough time—the Ansariland had been their world and strangers were about to breach their private borders for good or bad. Change could be tasted on the recycled air, but the harsh flavor gave up no answers. Although that was no reason to pass up a potential lifeline. Their lives had an expiration date given the current scenario. The Ansariland, no matter how freeing, was a deathtrap if things stayed the same. Leaning back as best he could inside the crushing embrace, Arad stared upward into Roku’s eyes. “I have to answer this before they give up and move on.” “I know.” Roku’s sigh vented his concern. “I’m just nervous.” “You and me both.” “I’m going to step aside, out of view while you answer. We don’t need to scare them off before we know if they can help.” Arad hated the self-loathing undertone he was hearing. “Roku, you’re hardly a monster.” A faint crease of disbelief marred Roku’s brow. “Maybe not, but you know I’m right. We need their aid, but if I’m going to keep us both safe, I’d like to know more details about them first. They might not be willing to help a DemiShou.” “All right. But I’m not lying about you if they ask. I’m not ashamed of you.” Bending forward, Roku pressed his lips hard to Arad’s. Nothing sexual was shared in the moment, only an affirmation to one another. An unspoken promise which Arad answered with equal intensity. Cradling Arad’s head in his huge hands, Roku stroked Arad’s cheek with his thumb. “Be careful. We don’t know who they are or if they can be trusted.” “I’m a slug. I can count on the fingers of one hand how many people I trust, and I still have a lot left over.” Holding up a single index finger, Arad poked Roku in the chest. The DemiShou stood tall, almost preening, and stepped out of range as Arad took his seat. He shifted and tugged at his shirt hem, making sure his bare ass was well hidden. Clearing his throat, he reached for the communications control with a hesitant hand and made the connection. “This is Captain Ansari of the Ansariland.” The main screen came to life, flickering and static-ridden. Slightly off-center, a handsome man with kind features filled the monitor, gray peppered throughout his simple, unpretentious hairstyle. Fine lines creased his eyes as an easy smile graced his face. “You have no idea how good it is to see there’s someone alive onboard. Salvaging a dead ship gets a little creepy. Not a fan.” The man breathed out in relief between digital squalls distorting his image. “Greetings, captain. I’m Captain Hodge of the Nightingale. It was a bit of a mess, but we came across your distress call. What can we do to help?”
  13. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 49

    Hard to say. Let's hope whoever it is, is friendly.
  14. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 49

    If you got that song earwig from reading that chapter, you deserve it. Roku's background has been speculation so far without any hard evidence. Maybe once the ship is more reliably functional (assuming it can be done) they can do some proper research.
  15. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 49

    This moment does signal a shift in their future. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes.
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